Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Earthquakes are Fun: Nihon Week 33

I am very grateful for the Lord's protection over his missionaries.  We received this email last week before we even knew there had been an earthquake:

Dear Parents,
There has been 6+ magnitude earthquake with the epicenter near the city of Kurayoshi which is in the Japan Kobe Mission.  This email is to let you know that all the missionaries in the earthquake affected area are accounted for and safe.  The Sisters in the Kurayoshi area have reported aftershocks but all is well.  There is no tsunami warning
We are grateful for God's continual guidance and protection in our lives!
President and Sister Welch
Thank heavens for good news and a wonderful Mission President that keeps us informed.

I am also struck once again by the sacrifices of our missionaries.  It is so hard out doing what they are doing day to day.  I read about Alyssa's discouragements and the rejection she faces every day and my mother's heart feels for her.  And many of her dear friends are out in the world as well doing the same thing every day.  I know they have each had their trials and frustrations as well.  And yet they are so amazing and so strong.  I have been so impressed with their positive attitudes and the ability to find the Lord's tender mercies every day.  I have much to learn from these strong and valiant young people.  The work is in good hands.

Group Email:

Minasan, konnichiwa!
Another busy busy week gone by for us here in Shimogamo, and as missionaries when we are busy, we are happy! Can't even believe that Halloween is in a week from today, especially because that means I have to come up with a costume by Saturday for the ward party..haha stayed tuned next week to hear how that one turns out!
This week really was special though, we saw a lot of tender mercies and small miracles and I couldn't be more grateful to be laboring in this part of the Lord's vineyard to have the chance to witness them all.

Last Monday for P day was amazing because we did nothing...seriously I just put on sweats and emailed and relaxed and it was so needed, because it was basically the first chill P day I have had since coming to Kyoto! So very needed because I was dead haha. After P day ended we went out and did some street contacting and weren't able to find any new investigators, but it was still great as always to be able to share the beautiful message of the gospel.

Tuesday was super good also! We went and did service for this one investigator (once again we were the elders quorum and had to move a bunch of boxes and carry heavy bags of clothes places, and that was interesting because my companion is TINY and so I was trying to take all this stuff and pretend like I am all American and tough and am really way pathetically weak, but hey it ended up okay), and then streeted around her place. We met this super cool college student and had a great contact and were able to give her a Book of Mormon...she said she was too busy to meet again, but she really had interest in the BOM and so we gave her our contact info and hope to hear from her soon! This work has a lot of planting of seeds in it, which admittedly is sometimes really annoying for me, because I hate gardening haha, but really it is just allowing me to try and put more faith in the Lord's timeline than my own.

Wednesday was super strange haha. It was one of those days where we had a bunch of plans but then they all fell through and it just had a weird vibe like we were supposed to be somewhere and do something but we weren't sure finally all started to fall into place in the later afternoon when we first met this super genki old grandma by the river and had a great contact with her...she doesn't live in our area but we gave her a BOM and she was way pumped to read it and was just super hilarious. She was like 90 or something and was SUPER hard to understand, but she kept randomly smacking my stomach and was probably commenting on my fat (thanks a lot, Japanese bread and rice), but she was just too funny. Lucky for the missionaries that will get to teach her in their area.

That night we were also led to go and visit these former investigators named the Tanaka's...they were former shiganshas but dropped before their baptismal date because their daughter was hantai, but we dropped by to see if we could meet them and they happened to just walk in the door and we were able to teach them and open the correspondence for teaching them again. Small miracles! Super cute little grandma and grandpa, we will see how they do seeing as they have forgotten almost everything!

Thursday was a day of big tender mercies for me. I was feeling SO down. It hit me that I have been in Shimogamo for almost four months and have been a part of finding like 2 investigators that actually are somewhat solid and learn....I was just really really struggling and feeling like a complete failure and it was weighing on me the entire day as I worked. Every rejection just started to hurt worse and worse and I was honestly on the brink of tears like all day. On our way to our last appointment of the night, I was just praying so hard to Heavenly Father that He would help lead us to someone who we could teach...I was praying so fervently and just needed a miracle. We get to the piano center where we are gonna teach our Piano grandma Tanaka, and see she is talking to this girl. Next thing we know, she tells us that this girl is coming to our lesson with us too. We were super confused, but were all like "Okay, whatevs" and so we went in there and taught the Plan of Salvation. This girl is 25 and a medical student at Kyoto University, and her name is Rika. She is WAY sweet and actually knows the missionaries because when she was little, she went to Eikaiwa all the way up in Saitama. She loved the lesson and had interest in coming to church and exchanged info to meet again....I was just so blown away. Finding her had NOTHING to do with our own efforts, but God in His infinite mercy reached out to me on one of my lowest days of the mission, and delivered a little miracle. I know He heard and answered my prayers, and I cant be grateful enough that He cared enough to answer. We have a new investigator!

Friday and Saturday we had kokkans in Fushimi! I had the chance to work with the lovely Luczak Shimai, and it was so fun. She is such a beast missionary and I think in our 24 hours together we taught like 31 lessons. It was crazy but I learned so much and had such a great time. We also got to go run to Fushimi Inari in the morning, and it was BEAUTIFUL.

ALSO. That day we were standing outside this appointment complex exchanging contact info with this lady, and all of our phones started freaking out....haha once again it was the earthquake alarm. We had like 20 seconds and then all of the sudden everything just starts moving and it was the weirdest sensation. Luczak Shimai and I just look at each other and have no clue what to do, but the Japanese were not concerned by it in the least and just kept chatting even though the bikes were swaying and the ground was kind of like jelly. It wasn't that big and everything was okay, but it was seriously the weirdest sensation. Can't even imagine how scary a bigger one would be!

Saturday and Sunday were just super good days of working hard to baptize everyone. Did a lot of contacting and finding and met some cool people who will be coming to Eikaiwa and hopefully the Halloween party this weekend. Ended out the week with some great numbers and some great PI's and tender mercies. Love missionary work. 

One final thought...been reading in the Book of Mormon and came across these verses in 2 Nephi 21 this week:
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

Out of context, these verses might seem kind of random, but you need to keep in mind that I have been reading and studying everything through the lens of the atonement. The verses before and after are talking about Christ, and then I read these verses and realized something really profound. Before when I read these verses I always just thought "Woohoo, all the animals are gonna be nice when Jesus comes, yes!" But then I realized it has a much deeper me these verses show that the atonement has the power to change even the very NATURE of creatures. The atonement has many aspects to it...cleansing, strengthening, empowering...but the one that has stuck out to me the most lately it is the power it has to change. As we use the atonement, we truly can change to become saints. We can go from being ravenous wolves to being tame like sheep, we can go from being natural men to someone who can one day be worthy to live with our perfect father again. Isn't the atonement just incredible?

I love you all so much and hope you have a great week. Remember that this gospel is true and that it is everything :) Aishiteimasu, minasan!

Sister Pickering

P.S. These photos range from today's P day adventure to Gion Michi and this random park and shrine, me eating Takoyaki (which is basically octopus pancake balls and is so dang good), and then just random dendo photos. Enjoy :)


The weather is finally turning cooler.  So time for hot chocolate.

Octopus Pancake Balls!?


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